Chaos Attraction

A Theory of Gift Swap Buying

2019-12-19, 7:44 p.m.

Note: Wednesday was busy and the rest of my week probably won’t be until the weekend again, so I’m going to do separate entries for day and night. This one covers the day of 12/18/19.

Before I forget, I want to mention some quotes from other people I didn’t mention in entries earlier in the week:
(a) We have one lady who drops in and out of knitting group when she’s in town and is a former firefighter. She said this about her daughter getting into the idea after she was talking about work: “My mother’s destroying a house and she’s bouncing off the walls! So she changed from criminal justice to firefighting.” Also about the daughter: “Chainsaws are her thing.”
(b) A coworker of mine said to me, “You are a quality woman.” Awwww.

Today was the ... well, we’re not allowed to call it an office/holiday “party,” any more, it was called an “advance”* and we were going to have to sit through a health and wellness lecture instead of playing any games or having any fun this year. The event planning committee didn’t exactly get to do much on this one. This kind of seemed like an “enemy of fun” sort of thing when we heard about it, but in actuality it ended up making sense after the worst work day ever occurred.

* yes, I asked for an explanation of this word choice and I still don’t think that explanation made any sense...but it was supposed to be like, a work retreat or something.

Anyway, they brought in a shrink to talk about stuff like burnout and change and holiday stress (“typically, the holidays don’t meet our expectations”), and we were supposed to write down on little cards what our biggest stress thing was. Much to my amusement, BigBoss didn’t figure out where this was going and was all, “Are you going to share this?” followed by, “I didn’t write any of your names down.” Then she fessed up that hers said “Traffic and IT systems.” Uh huh. A lot of ours boiled down to staff issues, customers being godawful, and tech problems. Lioness called yesterday “the worst day of my career.” I said at some point that sometimes you just wanna go home and drink and the shrink said, “We don’t know what’s in the water bottles....” Hah.

She talked about how we all have a window of tolerance and how that shrinks when you’re stressed out, your coping strategies don’t work, and you need an antidote for burnout, like rest and (guess what) gratitude! So then we had to fill out lists of what we were grateful for. I pointed out that we should say things like benefits and health insurance because (I still had to explain this to some people?!) that isn’t a basic right that all employed people get.

The shrink (I forget if she’s a psychiatrist or psychologist, so I will be lazy and go with “shrink” today) also had us make a list of all the stresses in our office, which is huuuuuuuuge. So yeah, we in the shit there.

It was announced that our current interim boss landed the permanent position, huzzah! And that Kaila, who has been more or less filling in as call center manager, is now hired officially as such. So really, nothing changed except officiality there. As for hiring new assistants and a scheduling manager, somehow we still can’t do that, so thanks, HR!

After that was over, the lone game we had this time was to identify people’s baby pictures. I got like two of them. This is not my game.

Then we had lunch, and there was some minor drama as to whether or not any of the menu was vegan for Hannah and the other vegan coworker. The other one wanted to walk out and get food elsewhere and Hannah said she’d accompany her, but it turned out the eggplant lasagna counted, so they came back and ate.

And after that, there was the inevitable stealing game done at every party I ever go to.

Things frequently stolen:
* Gift cards (“I didn’t know it was a gift card! I’m going to steal a gift card!”...later followed by, “Can I take my gift cards back?”)
* Lotto tickets (BigBoss’s office manager stole them from her directly...and yet somehow BigBoss ended up with a second set of lotto tickets)
* A pack of socks (“Who knew 15 days of socks was such a hot commodity?”)
* Magic 8 ball (at least I understand that one. When that was stolen for someone’s kid, another coworker said “I would definitely be thinking all about myself in this situation.”)
* Mugs.
* A unicorn neck massager, I restrained myself from making all the jokes I wanted to about that.

Hannah: “We got some low key savages.”

There was debate on whether or not to steal vs. unwrap:
“My desire to open something is stronger than my desire to steal.”
“I don’t like surprises either.”
“For people who don’t like surprises, you sure are all into this.”
“I’m not mean like some people.”

Also, I was making my Baby Yoda during this and Kaila (the other sci fi geek in the office) walked by and was all, “I want to steal Baby Yoda!” I told her I’d make her another one.

There’s always one person who gets stolen from a lot. First he had the socks stolen, then I stole a bear from him and then he was very unhappy to end up with a pair of giant bells and asked for anyone to steal them from him, which nobody did. “Someone picked that out,” the host said.

I had the bear stolen from me by 2nd in command, claiming she wanted it for her grandson. I ended up with a framed picture of a cookie recipe (?????) and a set of towels, which obviously nobody would steal from me either. I ended up putting the frame up with the rest of my holiday decor because what the hell else you gonna do with it, but I can’t help but think, why was this a thing that anyone purchased? Why would you think anyone would want it? Like even if you are really into cooking, you can just look up a recipe on the Internet* and I don’t think too many people actually use small frames that much to frame pics.

* note: which I have been doing lately racking my brains on what the goddamned hell to bring to the next theater potluck that avoids the guys’s food allergies. I may just give up and get Chinese takeout. Seriously, why are most recipes so damn complicated and involve a pinch of this and a dash of that and fifteen tiny ingredients that require me to buy spices or whatever that I am never going to use again?... Why can’t I find some four ingredient dish that isn’t complicated to make and still avoids the dairy (so far the peanuts seem easier to avoid)? Yeah, cooking makes me stressed out.

At least the person who ended up with the “ninjabread” (ninja gingerbread cookie kit) that I brought seemed okay with that, at least. Or at least she’s a cool enough person I doubt she was hugely bothered, even if she doesn’t have kids at home.

This led me to think about a theory of gift swap buying:

When I get stuff for gift swaps, I shop based on the idea of, “what would I want in a gift swap?” Which is usually some kind of wacky toy or other, and that’s usually what I try to get in gift swaps since usually there is like, one other toy in any gift swap. I hope that the lone other toy inclined person in the bunch gets mine and vice versa, but who the crap knows. I kind of hope that whatever I get is so cool that it will get stolen a bunch of times, but so far I’ve only had one gift I brought in stolen at all, and it was a pink and purple shawl I made for knttiing group a few years ago that actually made it to three steals. I’ve tried to recreate that experience again, but so far no luck. Also, I think a lot of the issue with stealing is the wrapping (see below).

Then there’s the folks who buy something utterly random, like giant bells or a framed cookie recipe that make you think, “Uh, why did you think anyone would want that? Who is going to use that for anything? It’s probably gonna go to Goodwill.” Of course that could be regifting, who knows there, but I seriously wonder about things like that. Especially when nobody is going to want it, would ever want it, and can't get rid of it during the game.

And then there’s what I call the generic stuff, like mugs or candles that everyone has fifty of already. I honestly don’t get why people were so nuts over the mugs unless the mugs were really unusual. Which sometimes they were and sometimes they were not.

I can get why folks go nuts over chocolate (food), gift cards (“free money!”), or lottery tickets, I guess, but I can’t say I get very excited over getting those since I have enough candy around and I don’t actually think I’m going to win the lottery so I don’t get excited at all about those. I have like $40 in Starbucks cards* I won this year I still haven’t gotten around to using either, so don’t look at me on getting around to using the gift card if it’s not for books or crafts.

* My apologies to the horrified coffee drinkers out there. I do like that Starbucks offers non coffee drinks, which is what I get while there, but I just don’t wander off to get fancy drinks more than once or twice a year and usually that’s just following Jackie around.

But it seems to me that I am in an extreme minority on wanting “fun” gifts, because it looks like most adults do not. Most want mugs, socks, and lotto tickets. All of that makes me go “boring,” but I guess adults are just boring usually and I'm the weirdo for not being into that stuff.

I also think part of the issue with these things is the wrapping issue. Since you have no idea what you are getting and you get yelled at not to touch/molest/shake/sniff the gifts, people start with the biggest gifts and/or the most interestingly wrapped ones and/or the ones with the cutest bags and then by the end you’re down to the smallest stuff* that probably won't get stolen that late in the game, that just looks sad. Every year at some point I think I should do more about wrapping my gifts in like, something bigger or showier, but then I think, “I’m not gonna waste a huge box on a small gift when I might need it to wrap something actually huge,” and then never do it.

* note: one coworker uh, wrapped a Trader Joe’s gift card in paper towel. This was made fun of quite a bit, and/or called “sustainable,” but the gift card was stolen a lot.

Well, the cast party in which kids will be in the gift swap should be interesting, at least. I’m wrapping a unicorn in a (legitly needed) large box, so we’ll see if kids are into it or fight over it or whatever.

As for the post office “advance” activities:

(a) We had the phones shut off for hours and yet when we came back, some folks had still called and were literally sitting on hold for an hour. JEEBUS FOLKS, FIND SOMETHING ELSE TO DO AND CALL BACK AT 3 ALREADY.

(b) The package of documents I needed from the East Coast was delivered of course while we were closed, but our lovely neighbor got it for me, so my clientele should be happy to get their stuff about 3 weeks earlier than I told them they would.

(c) Someone I know in another office dropped off a gift while I was out, a knitting themed mug. I’m not much of a hot beverage girl, but the mug was darned cute and that was very nice of her!

(d) There was an Olympic themed ceremony for the winners of the “who scans things the fastest” competition, with gift card medals, a fake American flag (really a voting registration thing) and music.

(e) The following quotes from Tigress and Lioness on Lioness getting herself a massage after the day she had:
“You got butt naked?”
“I left my chonies on!”

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